Study reveals breakfast cereals lure kids with tricks

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Hey kids! Buy this cereal! Photo via Mike Mozart.

Hey kids! Buy this cereal! Photo via Mike Mozart.

A joint venture study by Yale University and Cornell University, released on Wednesday, reveals the lengths in which cereal manufacturers will go to appeal to young kids in order to sell their food.

According to the Journal of Environment and Behavior, tricks such as shelf placement, character angles and eye positions are micro-manipulated to impact children according to their height and sensory processes.

The study noted, “We calculated the average height of cereal boxes on the shelf for adult- versus children-oriented cereals (48 in. vs. 23 in.) and the inflection angle of spokes-characters’ gaze (0.4° vs. −9.6°). We found that cereal characters on child- (adult-) oriented cereals make incidental eye contact at children’s (adults’) eye level.”

Research on children’s reactions and impulses revealed that children feel an increased level of trust and loyalty to a brand when a cereal box’s character is making eye contact with them. Marketeers take advantage of this phenomena by paying sales and marketing people to ensure prime shelf space.

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The study also suggests that some of the unhealthiest cereals, or those which contain the most sugar, are the ones that rely on these kinds of marketing strategies the most. For a list of the top ten “worst” cereals for children from the Environmental Working Group, click here.

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